Enjoying Venison as Part of a Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest eating patterns around. With its emphasis on fruits, vegetables whole grains legumes, nuts, healthy fats, and seafood, it offers numerous benefits for overall wellness. But can you also enjoy delicious, lean venison as part of a Mediterranean diet? Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding the Mediterranean Diet

The traditional Mediterranean diet is based on the healthy eating habits of people living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, such as Italy, Greece, and Spain.

Some key characteristics of the Mediterranean diet include

  • Abundant plant foods – Lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.

  • Moderate fish intake – Eating fish and seafood at least twice a week.

  • Limited red meat – Red meat is eaten only occasionally, and portions are small. Poultry is more common.

  • Healthy fats – Olives, olive oil, avocados, and nuts provide healthy unsaturated fats.

  • Herbs and spices – Garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, oregano add tons of flavor.

  • Red wine – In moderation, red wine is often enjoyed with meals.

The Mediterranean style of eating provides remarkable health benefits, from weight loss to reduced heart disease and diabetes risk.

Is Venison Part of the Mediterranean Diet?

Venison comes from deer, which are wild animals eating an all-natural diet of grasses and vegetation. As a very lean red meat, venison fits well into a Mediterranean eating pattern in moderate amounts.

Some key advantages of venison for a Mediterranean diet:

  • It’s very low in fat, especially saturated fat. Less total fat and calories than beef.

  • As a grass-fed meat, venison provides healthy omega-3s.

  • Venison is an excellent source of iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins.

  • It contains more protein than beef – about 26 grams per 3 ounce serving.

However, traditional Mediterranean diets limit red meat to only occasional consumption. Here are some tips for enjoying venison in balance:

  • Eat no more than 3-4 ounces of venison once or twice per week.

  • Always accompany venison with lots of Mediterranean veggies, fruits, grains and legumes.

  • Use venison as a flavorful accent, not the main focus of your meals.

Enjoyed wisely along with abundance of plants, venison can be part of an overall healthy Mediterranean diet.

Choosing Venison Cuts for the Mediterranean Diet

When preparing venison to align with Mediterranean diet principles, choose leaner cuts of meat. The best options are:

  • Venison tenderloin – Extremely lean and tender, almost steak-like. Cook quickly by grilling or pan searing.

  • Venison loin or backstrap – Also very lean. Grill, bake or slice for sandwiches.

  • Venison round steaks – Cut from the rear legs. Use for kabobs, stews or slice thin.

  • Venison flank steak – Flat and lean like flank beef steak. Good for grilling or braising.

  • Venison leg – The hind leg is leaner than the front shoulder. Roast or braise for stews.

Stick with these leaner venison cuts versus ribs, brisket, or chuck roasts to limit fat intake.

Mediterranean Ways to Prepare Venison

To bring out delicious Mediterranean flavors in venison:

  • Marinate venison in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, rosemary and pepper before cooking.

  • Grill venison loin or tenderloin over medium heat, 2-3 minutes per side.

  • Pan sear venison steaks in olive oil to quickly cook while retaining moisture.

  • Braise venison roasts or leg pieces in red wine with veggies for flavorful stews.

  • Use Mediterranean herbs and spices – Think garlic, parsley, basil, fennel, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, paprika.

  • Pair with Mediterranean vegetables – Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, spinach, olives.

  • Include Mediterranean grains – Serve venison over barley, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur or farro.

With techniques like marinating, quick cooking and herb infused braising, venison can shine in Mediterranean cuisine.

Healthy Venison Recipes for the Mediterranean Diet

Here are some delicious recipe ideas that pair venison beautifully with Mediterranean flavors:

  • Venison kebabs with onions, peppers and mushrooms
  • Venison meatballs simmered in marinara sauce
  • Venison gyro wraps with tzatziki yogurt sauce
  • Venison carpaccio drizzled with lemon, olive oil and parmesan
  • Venison stir fry with broccoli, carrots, bell peppers and teriyaki
  • Venison stew braised in red wine with pearl onions and carrots
  • Grilled venison tenderloin with chimichurri oregano sauce
  • Venison bulgur pilaf with raisins, pine nuts and fresh mint

Be creative mixing and matching venison with Mediterranean veggies, healthy grains, beans, herbs and spices for nutritious and delicious meals.

Enjoying Venison Safely in a Mediterranean Plan

To safely incorporate venison into your Mediterranean diet:

  • Always cook venison thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 145°F to destroy any potential bacteria or parasites.

  • Marinate venison in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Discard used marinade to avoid bacterial contamination.

  • Avoid cross contamination by using separate cutting boards and utensils for raw venison. Wash all items that touch raw meat thoroughly.

  • Refrigerate venison within 2 hours of cooking. Eat leftovers within 3-4 days and freeze for longer storage.

  • Thaw frozen venison in the refrigerator, never left out at room temperature more than 2 hours.

Follow basic food safety practices and you can enjoy nutritious venison as part of your fresh, flavorful Mediterranean diet.

Venison – A Healthy Addition to the Mediterranean Lifestyle

The Mediterranean diet offers so many benefits – from weight management to disease prevention and longevity. Venison can be part of this healthy eating pattern when consumed in moderation and balanced with an abundance of plant foods. Choosing lean cuts, focusing on quick cooking methods, and flavoring with Mediterranean herbs allows you to enjoy the unique taste and nutrition of venison while still aligning with Mediterranean diet principles. Incorporate venison into your Mediterranean lifestyle and menus for delicious diversity.

Can You Eat Meat On The Mediterranean Diet?


What meats are OK on Mediterranean diet?

Yoghurt, cheese, milk and lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey or eggs are also eaten in a Mediterranean-style diet. Red meats and sweets are only eaten in small amounts. Processed meats (deli meats, bacon, ham, corned meats, salami or sausages) and packaged foods should be limited to rare occasions.

Is venison healthiest meat to eat?

Although venison provides slightly more cholesterol than some other types of meat, the difference is negligible. Furthermore, venison contains fewer calories and less saturated fat than other varieties of red meat, including beef, pork, and lamb. Therefore, it can fit into a heart-healthy diet if enjoyed in moderation.

When not to eat venison?

Do not shoot, handle or eat meat from deer and elk that look sick or are acting strangely or are found dead (road-kill). When field-dressing a deer: Wear latex or rubber gloves when dressing the animal or handling the meat.

What is not allowed on a Mediterranean diet?

Beer and liquor. Foods high in sodium or saturated fat. Refined carbohydrates, like white bread and white rice. Highly processed foods, like some cheeses.

Can you eat meat on the Mediterranean diet?

There is no denying that meat adds unique flavor to foods. The good news for meat eaters is that they can follow a Mediterranean Diet and enjoy meat at the same time. Here are some suggestions for adding it to your diet: Think of red meat as a treat reserved for special occasions.

Why is meat eaten less in the Mediterranean?

One explanation for why meat is eaten less in the Mediterranean is because it takes a lot more energy, time, and money to get to the plate than vegetables, whole grains, or any of the other foods that make up the foundation of the Mediterranean Diet. Raising animals for meat is resource-intensive and taxing on the environment.

Can you eat fish on a Mediterranean diet?

Add in fish and seafood twice a week, plus smaller amounts of dairy, poultry and eggs, along with red meat on occasion, and you’ll be a Mediterranean diet star. “A common mistake we see with Americans is trying to embrace the Mediterranean diet is that they miss the forest for the trees.

Can you eat poultry on the Mediterranean diet?

Enjoy small portions of poultry as a main dish. Poultry, along with dairy and eggs, is included in moderate portions in the Mediterranean Diet. Chicken broth is commonly used to flavor soups and stews, for example. When you make poultry as a main dish, limit your portion to three ounces or less (the size of one typical chicken thigh or breast).

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